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Tech Savvy
Tech Savvy writer Stephen Lacey is senior editor at Greentech Media. Previously, he worked as a reporter/editor for Climate Progress, and was an editor/producer with RenewableEnergyWorld.com.

Improving employee engagement with a mobile nudge

By Stephen Lacey
Digital app from Nudge Rewards bridges the gap between management and workers.

Employee engagement, a term coined in the early 1990s to help measure satisfaction in the workplace, has taken on new meaning in the digital age.

The reason: the ubiquity of mobile devices, which now gives companies limitless ways to interact with their employees. While constant connection can be a driver of stress, this new link between workers and employers is driving an increase in employee engagement – and, in turn, sustainability.

In 2015, engagement “exploded onto the scene” as the top priority for companies, according to researchers at Deloitte. In a survey conducted by the consulting firm earlier this year, 87 per cent of corporate executives said it was their most important goal. And now countless startups are rushing in to fill the need.

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The future of cities: from social sciences to data standards

Forward-looking cities are beginning to use data to support city goals and objectives.

The “city of tomorrow” has been an object of fascination throughout history for artists, futurists and architects.

As the centre of rapid change, cities are commonly used to imagine how society will be influenced by new technologies. The design archetypes are numerous: the floating city; the bubble city; the space city; the vertical city; and, more recently in the era of environmental awareness, the eco city.

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A CoClear approach to lifecycle analysis

CoClear helps companies reduce emissions more affordably than traditional approaches.

In the late 1960s, Coca Cola pioneered the idea of a ‘lifecycle analysis’ by becoming one of the first major consumer-facing corporations to review the environmental impact of materials used in its containers. But it took rival PepsiCo to take that lifecycle analysis to the next level.

Seven years ago, with public and investor interest in carbon accounting on the rise, Pepsi undertook its own mission to map the resource intensity of its Tropicana orange juice.

The company turned to Christoph Meinrenken, a mathematician and physicist at Columbia University who had shifted his attention to environmental engineering. Meinrenken and a team of engineers at Columbia were working on a new technique – called “fast” lifecycle analysis – for measuring resource use, carbon emissions and supply chain costs. Pepsi was intrigued, so asked for Columbia’s help.

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Tech savvy: eRespond

Can startups like eRespond bring fresh ideas to utilities?

Utilities in North America are facing an aging problem on two fronts: aging infrastructure and an aging workforce. Can a new generation of entrepreneurs and engineers help utilities address both?

The Canadian Electricity Association estimates Canada will need to spend nearly $294 billion by 2030 to upgrade old equipment and accommodate more distributed resources. The American Society of Civil Engineers says the U.S. needs a $94-billion upgrade by 2020 in order to modernize its grid. Meanwhile, in both countries, more than half of the utility workforce is nearing retirement age.

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Tech savvy: Ecova

By Stephen Lacey
A software company serves up sustainability management as a combo.

Fast food restaurants can only do so much to cut calories from their sandwiches. But with energy con­sumption 10 times greater than av­erage commercial buildings, they can always do more to reduce their kilowatt-hours and fuel use.

That’s what executives at Arby’s Restau­rant Group figured out in 2012 when they reviewed yearly expenditures and saw that electricity and water were some of the sand­wich chain’s biggest controllable expenses. But even with that knowledge, the company had no comprehensive plan to reduce re­source consumption across its hundreds of company-owned restaurants. Executives on the financial side of the business were talk­ing a different language than the employees managing the stores.

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